Let’s Take A Step Back

I’m just going to talk about a few things regarding this whole Oren debacle that have been bothering me.

I am sick of being treated like (and assumed to be with no real basis) an uninformed, protest-happy, activist.  Instead of dismissively demeaning my intelligence because of the position I hold in opposition to this decision, I wish we could have a conversation more focused on addressing the reality of the divides that have been underlined in our class community.  (I say that to you especially, Jehuda)

I am also sick of being blamed for creating the divisiveness that I am speaking out in protest of.  My statement of opposition to Oren being chosen as our commencement speaker* is not what created this divide.  The reality is, even if everyone who felt offended/upset/ostracized by the choice didn’t speak out, didn’t say anything, didn’t protest– the divide would still be real.  Real and invisible to those who are supportive or apathetic about him speaking.  The divide is real and an obvious result of this choice. Continue reading “Let’s Take A Step Back”


So, recently I lost my student ID, like most Brandeis students do at least once during their academic career.  Now normally this isn’t a big deal because someone will give it to the Info Desk at Shapiro, or message you on facebook to give it back.  Maybe at worst you’ll have to shell out the 10 dollars to get a replacement one.

But recently, I lost mine and then someone took the liberty of using all my WHOcash to do their laundry in Rosenthal.  Is there any way we could make whocash more secure, so that things like this don’t happen?  I know people are supposed to make sure the face matches the card when you buy things (I won’t get into how rarely this is actually enforced)… but when it comes to laundry it’s not like the WHOcash readers have retinal scans or anything to make sure the right person is using them.

I feel like this can’t be just an isolated incident, and that other people must have had similar experiences, I’m just wondering if anyone either a) knows a way to report this or b) has ideas about how to prevent this from happening to others in the future.  PIN numbers for laundry machines?  Anything?

I welcome your thoughts.

Diversity Survey

If you’ve checked your mail recently, you should have gotten an e mail from Kaamila Mohamed regarding taking a diversity survey.  Here are the contents of the e mail, and I urge you all to take a few minutes out of your schedules to answer a few questions!!

Dear Brandeis Student,

As two students interested in diversity at Brandeis, we have created a survey to gather information on the experiences, perceptions and interests of the Brandeis Community regarding diversity. Along with Dean Adams, we will analyze the results to determine the needs and desires of Brandeis students as they pertain to these issues.

We have tried to keep the survey as inclusive as possible without losing statistical significance. Because your personal experiences and ideas are of interest to us, if one or more of your self-identifications are not listed, please let us know in the question provided towards the end of the survey. Please also note that on the questions that ask you for self-identifications, you may choose not to answer.

The survey should take about ten minutes:


Thank you for contributing your time and effort to this initiative!


Kaamila Mohamed and Megan Straughan

ADD Anyone?

So, I posted this on facebook a while back, but it is something I think about every time I sit down to study, so I thought that maybe you beautiful Innermost Parts readers might enjoy it as well.

I recently read an article by Nicholas Carr called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, and I found it very interesting.  Especially considering the amount of my friends who have complained of symptoms of ADD (some I’ll admit were joking, but I know several who have actually been taking steps to get diagnosed), I find it very fitting.

One point that stuck with me the most, was when he was talking about his difficulty reading:

Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

I remember flying through books with relative ease when I was younger, and even just a few years ago in high school.  Only recently have I stumbled upon this inability to focus and concentrate on the narratives being presented to me. Although I’m not sure I would 100% blame it on the interweb, I do find it interesting that this experience seems to be pretty common among many people I know.

Thoughts and feelings, anyone?

Funny sidenote: considering all the above, I think the length of this article kind of keeps it out of the reaches of those who might be the most interested in Mr. Carr’s perspective.

“Columbus Day Observed”

“Columbus Day Observed” is what I read on my calendar this morning, which I promptly scratched out and responded with “not in this house”.

I am very happy that Brandeis does not recognize Columbus Day, especially since I read the book Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen and my eyes were opened to the myth I was taught in 3rd grade.  The cute little songs can no longer cover the realities of Mr. Columbus’ pillaging and degradation of our nations native peoples.  I could go on and on about the wrongs this man has done, so you can check out these quotes from Leowen’s book for more info. (The Columbus conversation doesn’t start until partway down the page)

Christopher Columbus introduced two phenomena that revolutionized race relations and transformed the modern world: the taking of land, wealth, and labor from indigenous peoples, leading to their near extermination, and the transatlantic slave trade, which created a racial underclass. (Leowen)

Come on, America.  Is this really who we want as a national hero?

Also from my understanding (and according to my calander), some have reclaimed today as Indigenous People’s Day.  I find that to be much more fitting.  Today should be a day of mourning and rememberance, as well as facing the current situation of native people in our country and working towards a more respectful and peaceful future.

So to all, a meaningful Indigenous People’s Day.

Activism and Religion

So, I wrote an article in the currently released edition of the Justice on Buddhism and activism (specifically tied to the peace movement).*  My goal in writing this letter to the editor was to correct a misinterpretation of Buddhism as “passive withdrawal from the world”.  In devoting so much time to thinking about engaged Buddhism, I had a few revelations.

1) I realized exactly how much the teachings and philosophy of Buddhism promote being active in the world we live in, in many varying ways.

2) On a deeper level, I realized that my contact with Buddhism and how I live my life through a Buddhist lens has made any activist issue (that promotes the genuine happiness and well-being of all sentient beings) is a deeply personal and spiritual issue for me.

3) I want to read more books.

So, in discovering just to what extent my Buddhist practice goes hand in hand with my drive for progressive activism and being the Religious Studies UDR that I am… I am wondering if other people have similar experiences where their religious/spiritual affiliations or views affect their personal experiences with and perspectives on activism.

So take a little time… while you’re walking to class, when you’re mind is racing before you go to bed, when you’re in the shower… and think about where your activist drive comes from and what reinforces it.  Be it religious or not, I really am truly curious!  So please, please, please post your thoughts!  Or you can stalk me and we can have lunch and talk about it 🙂

*The Justice had to do some light editing for issues of space, so you can read my letter in its full, unadulterated form after the jump

Continue reading “Activism and Religion”

Wait, Really?

Ok. So normally Jordan Rothman’s articles only leave me feeling irritated, but his article in this past weeks edition of The Hoot had me pulling out my hair and yelling at the paper.

You can read the entire article here and if you aren’t half as upset as I am, maybe we should do lunch and talk about why you should be.

The entire article operates on the definition of peace as the absence of war and an unfounded romanticization of military service.  And to my surprise, he includes his…dare I say, liberal … position on gays in the military.

One thing that had me particularly dumbfounded was his passionate anger and disgust towards the Peace Room… (yes, I said the Peace Room)

“I remember the first time I entered the Peace Room during my freshmen year. This tucked away space in the Usdan Student Center is a revolting display of propaganda, as it includes a one-sided view of a very multi-faceted reality. Furnished like a hippie hashish-smoking room and containing an 8-foot tall statue of Ghandi, this place oozed the disgusting aura of blind non-violence. Worst of all, the room possessed a register of conscientious objectors, where Brandeis students had inscribed their names in order to represent themselves under this classification. This place was disgusting, this room was horrific. I felt like taking a flamethrower to the place. The room represented the blind pursuance of liberal ideals so indicative of our institution.Continue reading “Wait, Really?”

Some summer revelations, and an opportunity to help!

[Sahar here. Please welcome Jessica, our even-newest contributor].

I had quite the experience this summer, thanks to funding from the Peace Awards here at Brandeis.

In short, I went to India for two months and taught English and World Religions to underprivileged Buddhist nuns in the Himalayas.  I went through the Jamyang Foundation, which has many projects in remote Himalayan regions dedicated to providing education for ordained Buddhist women.  This education spans a wide variety of subjects, from Buddhist philosophy to hygiene to English and more.

Before I continue, let me just say that there is no way in hell I will ever be able to completely convey this entire experience to you.  Writing this gives me the same feeling I had when taking pictures of the Himalayas: knowing the picture you take will never be able to capture the tremendous beauty and majesty of those mountains, or the feeling you get when you’re surrounded by them.  So, if I ever sound frustrated in my writing of this, or if this ends up being ridiculously long in an attempt to fit everything in, please understand my dilemma.
Continue reading “Some summer revelations, and an opportunity to help!”